Butcombe Trail Ultra, 56 miles (BTU56)
A single-day race starting at 7:00am. We will be running clockwise from The Swan in Rowberrow (BS25 1QL) on the Northern side of the circuit. The route is 56 miles with around 2500m ascent and earns 4 UTMB points.
All competitors must register at The Swan to collect their race number. Registration will open on the morning of the race from 5:30am to 6:30am. Competitors must also attend the race briefing which starts at 6:45am on race morning in the registration area. The race will start at 7:00am.
Butcombe Trail Ultra, 50 miles (BTU50)
A single-day race starting at 8:00am. We will be running clockwise from The Swan in Rowberrow (BS25 1QL) on the Northern side of the circuit. The route is 50 miles with around 2000m ascent and earns 3 UTMB points.
All competitors must register at The Swan to collect their race number. Registration will open on the morning of the race from 5:30am to 7:30am (but please avoid the rush of 56-mile runners around 6:15-6:30am). Competitors must also attend the race briefing which starts at 7:45am on race morning in the registration area. The race will start at 8:00am.
Local trail running site Running for the Hills have an article with advice on training for a hilly ultra, using the BTU50 as their example target race. The site also has lots of other advice on trail running in general and gear.
The races are self-navigation and competitors must carry paper maps at all times (these are available to download and print on the Routes page). The Butcombe Trail itself is waymarked along much of its length but this can be patchy, and the BTU56 follows a different route for the middle 12 miles. There will be marshals at key points. GPX files of the routes are also available on the Routes page. These are updated regularly so always make sure you have the latest version.
Feel free to get out on the course before race day to check out the route. It’s a beautiful course on public footpaths and there are plenty of lovely Butcombe country pubs on the route. If you visit one of the pubs on a recce, please be sure to mention the race. There are details of all the pubs and suggested recce routes here.
All entrants must have run a marathon since 1 Jan 2021. This doesn’t need to have been in a formal race, it could have been a 26+ mile training run. You will not need to provide proof of this, we trust you to tell the truth.
Entrants must be at least 20 years of age.
We do not encourage the use of headphones on the Butcombe Trail Ultra. If you decline to follow this advice, be aware that this is your responsibility. Note that you must be alert to instructions from marshals, the risks of road crossings and the needs of fellow runners at all times. This is for the safety of yourself and others. Both earpieces MUST be removed at all checkpoints and marshalled road crossings, runners risk disqualification if they do not follow this requirement.
Mandatory kit list
Runners will need to carry minimum kit of:
- a water bottle or bladder (it is up to 10 miles / 16km between checkpoints);
- a cup (optional, but will be needed if you want a checkpoint drink served other than in your water container (e.g. coke or squash)
- waterproof map case (or laminated / waterproof maps) if the weather is wet;
- waterproof top with hood and taped seams;
- waterproof or windproof trousers;
- long sleeved warmer top layer;
- fully charged mobile phone with volume set to maximum;
- buff or hat;
- emergency food (e.g. gel, energy bar);
- headtorch with charged batteries (yes, even if you plan to finish well before dark!);
- emergency foil blanket;
- sunblock or additional warm clothes if dictated by weather conditions;
- paper maps of the course, to be carried at all times – YOU MUST BRING YOUR OWN, either download and print the licenced OS extracts from the Routes page, or obtain the relevant OS sheets marked-up with the route.
We recommend that runners wear trail or fell shoes with good grip.
Depending on weather conditions, we may waive one or more items on the day, but you must arrive at registration with everything on the above list.
There will be seven checkpoints on the 50 mile route, eight on the 56. All but one of these are at Butcombe Brewery pubs. You must visit every checkpoint. A variety of sweet food (e.g. cake, biscuits, fruit, sweets, malt loaf), savoury food (e.g. crisps, nuts, sausage rolls), water, squash, and flat cola will be available at these checkpoints. You can also buy good local beer and cider in the pubs!
Please attach your race number to your front so that it can be clearly seen. You must show this number to marshals at each checkpoint – it is your responsibility to ensure that your number has been noted. You must not run with another person’s number.
The variety of food available should mean that if you have a minor food intolerance there will still be items available at each checkpoint to suit. However, due to the nature of race checkpoints, we cannot guarantee that there is no possibility of contamination between items. Therefore if you have a sensitive allergy we would ask you to provide us with sealed, named bags, numbered for each checkpoint; these may contain an appropriate amount of nutrition items, but cannot be used for other equipment. Please email us in advance if you wish to do this as we have to arrange exchange of the bags.
There are no provisions for drop bags in either race, although the BTU56 route does return to within 300m of the car park around mid-distance. However, in the spirit of the event, we would encourage runners to be semi self-sufficient and carry everything they intend to carry for the entire race. In any case, the mandatory kit list must be carried at all times (for example, it is not acceptable to pick up your head torch half-way).
The only exception to this is in the case of genuine medical needs for specific food items (see ‘checkpoints’ above).
Runners are welcome to have their friends meet them at checkpoints and it is permitted to exchange items, however, the full kit list must be carried at all times. Supplies must not be received other than at checkpoints, as UTMB / ITRA rules mandate that runners are self-sufficient between the official aid stations.
There is a maximum time of 15 hours to complete the 50 mile race and 16 hours for the 56-miler. The additional 6 mile section is tough, and takes the winner around 1h30 and the tail runners around 3h. Runners should therefore be confident they could finish the 50-mile race in 13 hours if they wish to enter the 56.
The following intermediate cut-offs will be enforced for both races:
Providing runners make it through the last checkpoint within cutoff, they will still be counted as finishers and be awarded their UTMB points, even if they miss the overall time limit. If any of the CP cutoffs is missed, the race number must be forfeited and the runner will be counted as DNF.
All finishers will receive a bespoke medal, which is specific to each edition of the race. Here are the medals from 2019:
There will be awards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd male and female in each distance, as well as various spot prizes and other goodies.
The nearest camping is at Mendip Camp. This is a 1 mile walk along a bridleway from the start/finish, or 5 minutes by car. There are no showers but there is a toilet block and campers are allowed to make camp fires. There are other campsites nearby with full facilities (e.g. Lillypool Farm), as well as plenty of other places to stay to suit any budget.
Parking at the start:
Plentiful parking is available in a field opposite the pub. This will be well-signed on race day. Please don’t use the pub car park.
Running with dogs (Canicross):
Since the race moved to April, we regret we can no longer accept runners with dogs due to the large number of lambs, calves and other young livestock present in the fields through which the route runs.
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